My friend Kenyon Phillips is many things — actor, copy writer, singer, musician. He's also a historian of music, film, pop culture and anything related to sex.
I have, for example, learned from him that Mussolini liked strong-smelling women, and that while it was considered normal in ancient Greece for men to take boys aged 12 and up as, um, companions, if the men were seen at schools where children under the age of 12 were present, they could be beheaded.
Kenyon’s also a vegetarian, so I must choose carefully when dining with him. He’s an easygoing guy, so he’d find something to eat anywhere we went, but I want him to truly enjoy his food, and I want the restaurant to be one that embraces vegetarians and can show their talent without using animal protein.
So we went to Organika, a new little Italian restaurant that opened in July in the West Village, right next door to SushiSamba 7.
We spoke of many things, as friends do, including the fact that I am frequently told that I look like actors who are popular, but not for their looks. Wallace Shawn is one example, and when The Princess Bride was a popular movie I was frequently asked to say “inconceivable.”
I am glad that I lived in Thailand during much of the run of Seinfeld, because when I was in the United States I couldn’t be outside for 20 minutes without somebody shouting “George!” or at the very least pointing out that I look like Jason Alexander.
Observations that I resembled these actors were not, I would insist, with all due respect to Wallace Shawn and Jason Alexander, compliments.
I would be told that Wallace Shawn was in fact a great actor and that Jason Alexander was not only popular, but he could sing and dance, too. All true, but no one said I acted like Wallace Shawn or danced like Jason Alexander, they said I looked like them. And while they might be cute in a cuddly sort of way, like a teddy bear or a duck, they were not sex symbols, and that’s something that I think we all would like to be on some level. I certainly would.
Au contraire, Kenyon told me — not about people wanting to be sex symbols, but about Jason Alexander not being one (Kenyon looks like a rugged Jared Leto, by the way, and is possibly the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen in real life).
Jason Alexander was, in fact, the romantic lead in a McDonald’s ad in the mid-1980s, Kenyon said.
And he was good enough to forward the link to me.
You must click on it. Oh, you must.
What we ate:
Sfornato di Melanzane (baked eggplant, Parmesan, basil, tomato purée)
Torre Caprese (stacked mozzarella, tomato, basil sprouts, roasted peppers and basil oil)
A pizza with mushrooms, arugula and truffle oil
Tagliatelle Bosco (ribbon pasta with garlic, zucchini, wild mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, basil and cream)